Monday, August 22, 2005

Big pickle weekend

My days off from work seem like a lot more work than my days on lately. I took Friday off because I wasn't scheduled to go out wading creeks, measuring cross sections and evaluating substrate types (and watching frogs). Tomorrow I will probably be going out electrofishing, which should make for some interesting stories. I'll try to remember the camera!

Friday morning we were blessed with some rain, not a huge amount but steady enough to keep me from having to water the garden. I washed dishes and cleaned the cook shed in preparation for my first venture into canning in several years. My neighbor Patty has been bringing me her excess green beans, which amount to a lot more than my entire production of beans so far. I had two large bags full, so I decided to can some straight and make pickled beans out of the rest. I did eight pints of beans in the pressure canner, and what a joy it was to hear the hiss of the steam and the rattle of the weight, and to lift out the jars and hear the ping of the lids sealing.

I did the pickled beans on Saturday morning in the water bath canner, and prepared the cucumbers for pickling in the afternoon. I had them all packed tightly into ten wide mouth quart jars, then realized I was out of wide mouth rings and lids! So in a wonderful display of inefficiency, I made the fifteen mile drive into town just for one thing. Well, actually two things, since it seemed such a waste of time and gas to go to town and not get beer. I returned, and pickles were processed.

Sunday was a day of rest--of sorts. I did laundry in the morning, because it had to be done, and hung it all out to dry. I helped Russ put a few sheets of siding on the house. Then Vincent and Nina and I got on our bikes and rode to the old farmstead just across the creek, where we picked a bucket of crabapples, which I might make into jelly, and some red clover blossoms to dry for tea. The kids and I spent some time just running in the grass and watching clouds. Then I decided that Togo the husky needed some exercise, so we rode our bikes back, put Togo on the leash, and came back to the same spot, the kids again on bikes and Togo taking me for a run. I took him off the leash for a while and he was ecstatic, although I think he's so used to being chained up he doesn't quite know what to do with himself.

When we got back, Russ had brought water down to the garden and he was starting up the chain saw. Hmmm, I thought we were going to take it easy the rest of the day. So I watered while he cut down a small dead birch between the new house and the garden. After the watering was done, I decided I hadn't done enough work so far, and proceeded to weed and trim edges around my greens bed, and clean out the onion and carrot bed which had been harvested. I stopped short of planting seeds in the cleared bed. Gotta save something for tomorrow!

Joe, by the way, threw a twenty minute tantrum because Dad would not let him operate the chain saw. This is the same three year old who wants a shotgun for his fourth birthday "So I can shoot those damn neighbor cows if they come over here!"

Winding down (finally) for the evening, I started what I hope to be an ongoing thing: reading with Nina and maybe Vincent. We read the first chapter of Louise Erdrich's The Birchbark House, which is wonderful so far.

6 comments:

madcapmum said...

Oh my gosh! Your Joe and my son are some kind of soul-mates! He wants to shoot the damn cows - that's hilarious!

pablo said...

Curiously, I was pleased to allow my 23-year-old son take the chainsaw duties from me yesterday. He was pleased to have the chance, and I was pleased with his work.

olympiada said...

thanks for sharing this slice of country life.

Floridacracker said...

Deb,
Make that reading such a routine that they wouldn't think of going to bed without "bed time reading". We did, they're 4.0 honor student teenagers now who love to read. Those cuddly reading sessions are the true riches in this life...

shannon said...

What cuke pickle recipe did you use this year?
Mine are too strong - and on the soggy side....

Deb said...

pablo-in twenty years I suspect I'll have an eager helper like yours!

floridacracker- Congratulations on your honor students! I feel kind of guilty for not having started the bedtime reading sessions sooner, but my older two (going into third and first grade) are excellent readers in spite of me. You're right about the true riches in life...

shannon- I ended up using a recipe for non-fermented dill pickles from the latest issue of Countryside magazine; I think it called for 12 cups water, 7 cups vinegar, and 1 cup salt, but I'm not sure. Some of mine might end up soggy because I kept them in the refrigerator for a while as I waited for enough cukes to make a batch. Next year I might try fermenting them in a crock.